Every California driver already knows that a conviction for DUI can trigger some very harsh legal penalties, but you may not have considered the “extra-legal” consequences of DUI. This is where a DUI law firm can help.
Automobile insurance companies in California also impose penalties on DUI offenders in the form of costlier insurance premiums, but when an auto insurance company penalizes you this way, you’ll have no right to an attorney and no right to an appeal.
If you are convicted of DUI in California, will you even be able to buy automobile insurance? Will your rates be affordable?
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO KNOW ABOUT DUI?
But first things first. The most important thing to know about DUI in California is that if you’re arrested and charged with DUI, you must have trustworthy legal representation at once. You must reach out as quickly as possible to contact an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer.
The next thing to know is that you have no obligation or reason to inform your auto insurance company about a DUI arrest or a DUI charge. The company will find out anyway when your auto insurance policy comes up for renewal – if not before.
HOW DOES AN INSURANCE COMPANY FIND OUT ABOUT A DUI CONVICTION?
In California, DUI convictions stay on your criminal record for a period of ten years, so an auto insurance company can find out about any driving under the influence conviction that you’ve received in the previous decade.
The companies typically check your California Department of Motor Vehicles record before they will renew your policy or sell you a different policy. That’s the usual way that an insurance company learns about a California DUI conviction.
If your auto insurance policy doesn’t need to be renewed, the insurance company will find out about your conviction for DUI when you ask the company for an SR 22 document.
WHEN CAN YOUR RATES BE RAISED OR YOUR POLICY CANCELED?
When you’re convicted of DUI in California, your driver’s license will be suspended. You’ll be required to obtain an SR 22 form to regain your driving privilege at the end of the suspension period.
However, your auto insurance policy can’t be canceled, and your insurance premium can’t be raised, until the policy is up for renewal.
You may have to look hard for an affordable auto insurance policy after a conviction for DUI. Your premium is going to be considerably more costly after a driving under the influence conviction.
WHAT IS THE SR 22 FORM?
State law requires liability coverage for every motor vehicle that a California driver owns and operates. Liability insurance compensates drivers, passengers, and bystanders for their injuries and other damages after a traffic wreck.
California additionally requires every convicted DUI offender to request an SR 22 form from his or her automobile insurance company subsequent to a conviction for DUI.
This form verifies that the motorist has met the state’s minimum auto coverage criteria, and it reinstates the motorist’s license when his or her license suspension has ended. Your auto insurance company provides the form and forwards a copy to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
HOW IS YOUR SR 22 REQUEST HANDLED?
Asking your automobile insurance company for the SR 22 form will increase your automobile insurance costs and may place you in a “high-risk driver” classification. High-risk designations can increase a driver’s auto insurance costs by up to $800 per year.
Not all automobile insurance businesses in this state even offer SR 22 forms or insure motorists who require SR 22s. If your own automobile insurance company offers no SR 22 coverage, it will probably cancel your current policy when it expires after receiving an SR 22 request.
If that happens, you must obtain coverage for the vehicle within 45 days, or its registration may be suspended.
WHY IS CAUTION IMPORTANT WHEN YOU SHOP FOR AUTO INSURANCE?
Even if you have a DUI conviction and you need an SR 22 form, rates can vary substantially, so shop for a policy that meets your needs at a price you can afford.
But be careful when you shop for auto insurance. Insurance fraud in California is increasing. You can have California’s Department of Insurance confirm that your insurance broker or agent is a reputable and licensed insurance professional.
After ten years, a California DUI conviction is erased automatically and permanently from your criminal record. At that time, no insurance provider will need to know that you were ever convicted of driving under the influence.
CAN TAKING A PLEA DEAL HELP WITH YOUR INSURANCE COSTS?
What’s the effect on your automobile insurance if you agree to a plea deal to avoid a driving under the influence conviction? A conviction for dry reckless or for wet reckless – the typical plea bargain for a first-offense California DUI – will also increase your auto insurance rates.
If an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer suggests taking a plea deal, there may be a number of reasons to do so, but you won’t be able to reduce your insurance costs. Wet and dry reckless are considered serious moving violations – comparable to DUI – by auto insurance companies.
However, convictions for wet reckless and dry reckless only remain on your driving record for seven years rather than ten.
The extra-legal consequences of a driving under the influence conviction are aggravating and costly, but the legal consequences of a DUI conviction could put your freedom at risk. The state of California treats driving under the influence seriously; so should you.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE ABOUT DUI?
You know, of course, the insurance and DUI difficulties that have been discussed here are easy to avoid by following that single bit of advice that you’ve heard so many times before: Don’t Drink and Drive.
Find a trustworthy designated driver or pay for a taxi, a limo, or a rideshare service. Rides for hire are everywhere in Southern California and are always available. You could even sleep on a friend’s sofa or rent a room overnight. Do whatever it takes to avoid drinking and driving.
However, if you’re stopped and arrested for DUI while you’re driving, you must have reliable legal assistance immediately. In other words, you must contact – at once – a DUI defense attorney in Orange County, CA who will fight to bring your DUI case to its best possible conclusion.
You’ll need that attorney to advocate aggressively for you because a lot more than auto insurance rates – your future and your freedom, in fact – will be at stake.